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CHETNA- Improving the childhood of street children in Delhi

Collaboration with the non-profit organisation CHETNA in Delhi

CHETNA- “Childhood Enhancement through Training and Action” is a non-government non-profit organization in Delhi that works for Indian street children and working children in Delhi and the surrounding streets.

The Hindi word “Chetna” means “creating attention” and stands for “improvement of childhood through training and activity. The NGO has been working since 2002 and consists of social workers and trained professionals, some of them who have come to CHETNA as street children themselves.

The focus is on education, children’s and women’s rights, protection and health care. The children should get away from the streets and get opportunities to escape the vicious circle of poverty.

For this purpose, CHETNA has set up various programs:

  • Badhte Kadam, a federation of street children and working children, to give them a voice in public as a collective.

  • Balaknama, the world’s first newspaper for street children and working children of street and working children since 2003. 4000 copies will be printed in Hindi and English.

  • Dreams on Wheels & Streets, a program in which homeless children are located early on in train stations and streets, only to be reintegrated into their families as soon as possible, so that they do not even get into the vicious circle of bad life in train stations and roads. Children who are already trapped in this life are helped by programs to escape it.

  • Contact Points, at these contact points all over Delhi, working children, especially girls, are given the opportunity to be completely children again. Playfully, the children experience education. The contact points form the first contact to teach the children, provide them with health support and to integrate them back into an educational system. 

  • Substance Abuse Rehabilitation and Well Being Centers, more than 80% of street children from the age of 4 anaesthetize their suffering with the use of drugs. Under CHETNA there are now three centres in which children are treated, enlightened and taken away from drugs with games, art and sports.

  • CHILDLINE Agra, a 24-hour hotline that can be dialed by children in need of help from Agra (not only) in emergencies. Afterwards, the children are either immediately freed from their plight or longer-term solutions are sought out. In 2018, more than 400 children were helped.

  • Open Basic Education, street children are often send to work by their families to contribute to the survival of the families. In most cases, schooling is  completely neglected. OBE is a distance learning programme which focuses on the education of children who are unable to participate in formal school life. In this way, the street children receive not only education, but also a degree.

  • Street to School, a pilot project to reintegrate street children from West Delhi into schools. Especially the busy West Delhi is attractive for street children to earn money as beggars, rag collectors, street vendors etc.

  • Other activities of Chetna are the organization of workshops (human rights, hygiene, women’s rights, experience pedagogy), excursions (e.g. to police stations) and further training for the police and supporters.